Tag Archives: indie publishing

The War Against Self-Published Authors

A definite war has been waged against self-published authors. Sentiments that just because you can take pen to paper and hit submit does not make you an author. In a world when anyone with access to internet can submit a book, what exactly defines an author?

There has even been an argument over writer versus author in this article (Self-Publishers Should Not Be Called Authors, by Michael Kozlowski). The overwhelming amount of snobbery was clear, as it would appear the elite once again do not enjoy “indies” trampling their path. To summarize the article in a nutshell, Mr. Kozlowski states, “If you can earn your living from your writing, you are a professional author, anyone else is just a plain old writer.” The premise to most of this article is that self-published authors (or writers) have not honed in their craft and publish, for lack of a better word, crap.

Some would say that self-publishing is for those who don’t want to spend years on perfecting their art in an apprenticeship as stated by Ros Barber in this Guardian post (For Me Traditional Publishing Means Poverty. But Self-Publish? No Way. “…you will be very glad that the first novel you wrote was not the first novel you published, because it will now feel embarrassing and amateurish,” he states. Going on to state in one of his sections that “Self-Publishing Can Make You Feel Like a Fool.”

These are not the exceptions. I searched many different terminologies and encountered several different blogs, reports, and editorials waging battle against Self-Published authors. Take into consideration that many articles were first littered with self-proclamations of their success. After reading articles for hours, I, as a self-published author, felt more like a peasant at the house of the tax keeper begging for mercy. My place is not among the elite. Maybe that was their point: put us groveling self-pub writers, because we haven’t yet earned our stripes through multitudes of failure, in our order on the literary food chain. Can you say, accomplished writers eat their young?

By definition a writer is one who writes in a particular text. This can encompass all types of writers: journalists, screenplay, novels, blogs, reviewers, scientific findings, technical, email. An author is a writer of a book, article, or report. Which makes, by definition, a self-published writer an author. Are there variations of authortude? I would say so. As any person who takes a picture, selfie or otherwise, is a photographer, that does not make them a “professional” photographer. By definition, professional is defined as, “one engaged in a specified activity as one’s main paid occupation rather than as an amateur.”

To recap: anybody who puts pen to paper (or types) is a writer. I wrote an email. I sent a text. A writer who has written a book, article, or report is an author. I am a self-published author. A professional author makes their living from their writings. Nicholas Sparks and James Patterson are professional authors. I am a  registered nurse by profession and an author by passion.

So why the war against self-published authors? If there is one main theme that runs through the disdain of each article it is one I can relate to the most: poorly edited books. Yes writers, just because you can put pen to paper and easily upload to a publishing platform, does not mean you should. I’ve written on this topic several times, and if you read the comments of some of those articles named above, you will see a plethora of readers agree that poorly edited books have turned them off to self-published books forever. They go so far as to research authors before purchasing books, and I do mean some deep research is going into this.

“… we must all strive to put out the best.”

Readers are most certainly looking for the next best thing, and they do not feel that traditional publishing is the be all to end all in books. They are looking for progressive story lines. Stories that break the rules. They are tired of being dictated to by big publishing houses. They want you! But, as a writer looking to author a book you have the duty to produce remarkable well polished work; inside and out. Yes. Yes. Yes. Readers judge a book by a cover.

You don’t need to build upon failures in order to become accomplished, but you do need to know that self-publishing is not free, requires editing, requires the ability to take criticism, requires writes and rewrites until you want to throw your manuscript at a wall and never see it again. Sometimes it takes years and for others it takes months. Do not be that author that hits submit on a non-edited book, that took no criticism prior to publishing, just because the opportunity is there. These faulty books are damaging the reputations of self-published authors.

self-publishing-cartoonWith all that being said, for every article found on the internet bashing indie authors there is an article praising us. There may be a war waged against self-pub, but there is an army of accomplished and professional authors backing up our industry. We are not alone, but we must put our best foot forward. Sometimes our first book is a jumping off point, one that does not need to be published. I’ve worked with several new authors who bled through their  first book then shelved it. That was the learning curve for them, and they knew it wasn’t worthy of publishing, but it was momentum to do better next time, to learn from mistake after mistake. And some get that award winning novel spot on the very first time. We are all different in skills, in stories, in our failures, but we must all strive to put out the best. You only get one chance to make a first impression, make it your best. And remember, you represent a larger group: self-published authors.

Tania L Ramos, RN BSN and author
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L.A. Times Book Fest

In my quest to be more of an extrovert (which hurts when it truly cuts across the grain of my being), I took the family out to LA Book Fest this past Saturday.  Okay, I know we are talking four days ago, but life has a way of choke holding me sometimes and forces me to do other things like: swap kids in L.A., sit in traffic, and drive to Anaheim to realize my debt will increase by exponential numbers when my kid goes to college.  By the way, this kid is also my marketer, so I told him he better do a great job if he wants me to sign my life away on a college loan!

So back to the topic I can so easily get off of (occupational hazard of being a writer…I go into tangents).  The L.A. Book Fest put on by the Los Angeles Times at the beautiful USC campus was held Saturday and Sunday.  There were well over 500 booths set up and thousands of people.  I can only compare it to being at a large county fair, subtract the carnival rides and add book readings, author interviews, and music.  Also, subtract carnival games and add $5 book stores, a man dressed as a zombie to promote his book (Tony J Ortiz, “All My Friends are Dead” whom I will review later), comic books, poetry books, kids books, YA books, memoirs, flashbacks, flash forwards, self-publishers, foreign publishers, indie publishers, small publishing houses, large publishing houses, marketing firms, and people against the oppression of comic books.

Needless-to-say, it was a BLAST! It took three hours to walk through it all, though I would have liked to browse more, but with a 4-year-old in tote it was difficult (they get antsy…fast).  I did video most of it, as I said I would, but it was kind of a trial and error day with my new GoPro camera too.  And again, with the kid tugging at my tank top, I didn’t get to accomplish as much as I would have liked to.  But, I’m glad she tagged along because she said, “I didn’t know there were so many books in the world.” It was definitely an eye opener.

I’m disappointed that I couldn’t attend any of the seminars, there were several throughout the day with speakers such as Judy Blume, John Cusack, and Betty White … to name drop.  What I enjoyed most was being in the company of fellow authors, self-published writers, indie writers, and prolific readers.  People were walking out with rolly backpacks loaded with new buys.  I also liked that there were different sections for different interests.  The poetry section with a poetry stage, the children’s section with children’s book, the adult area with more fiction, non-fiction mature readers (not triple x stuff…where is your mind?).  And at one point a stage with an orchestra playing.  It was fun listening to people pitch their books, but most of all it was a fun day spent with my boyfriend and daughter doing something that I really enjoyed.

Thumbs up to the LA Book Fest 2012 and keep an eye out for my video blog link (Vlog, as I am told it is called), and the new wonderful Vlog & Review intro my son created for me.  Happy reading and remember to keep an eye for my new book, “Be Still,” coming very soon.  <– Oh man, I can’t wait for September’s Shameless Promotion Month. By the way, I’m super close to hitting that 200 video mark on my YouTube site for the book trailer, so if you haven’t seen it just click through here, and make sure you Tweet it or like it or pin it or whatever you crazy kids are doing these days.